Thank you to Hodder Books for this arc in exchange for an honest review.
I absolutely adored this book, it’s become one of my fave reads this year. I am also a proud member of the Scarlet Gang!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
This book is incredible and you all need to read it. This is coming from a person who hates the story of Romeo and Juliet and yet this book has my whole heart!
The setting was so wonderful to read I loved that it was set in Shanghai in the 1920s it was both magical and dark and I loved it. I loved the mystery and how we are slowly fed information about this mysterious contagion and monster. Is it something supernatural? What or who is causing these deaths. It made me want to read just one more chapter.
These days…the most dangerous people are the powerful white men who feel as if they have been slighted.
I really loved how Chloe took the story of Romeo and Juliet and gave it a fresh spin and honestly this is better than the original. Roma and Juliette are the only ones worth reading about. The angst and chemistry between them and how we meet them after they had already fallen in love and been betrayed so they already have all this history between them which makes their relationship even more interesting especially as we slowly learn about it through flashbacks and how it affects them in the present. I loved the setting too where we see not only gangs fighting to rule but also the west coming to “improve” things. There was so many different groups all fighting for power and it is the people who suffer most in their battles.
Killer. Violent. Ruthless. All those and more – that was who she was now.
Juliette is my queen, I absolutely loved her! She is ruthless and does what needs to be done to look after her people and the people of Shanghai. I related to her a lot, how she is a capable leader but because she is a woman people don’t take her seriously, she can’t make a single mistake otherwise she will lose the support of everyone. She wants to do what is best for her people but she also has to manoeuvre around politics and how people don’t want to change.
Her character was so complex and I just completely fell in love with her. The ruthless and unfeeling exterior she has to always show to others so she won’t be seen as weak and how she pushes down how she feels especially towards a certain white flower, it was just amazing reading about her. I loved the discussions on how she never fit in, in the west but because she had spent time there she no longer fit in, in Shanghai either. It was so relatable, right down to how her name wasn’t western enough so she had to change it to suit them.
His title gave him power. Power kept him safe.
Roma was a cinnamon roll and I really enjoyed reading about him too but Juliette has my heart. I loved how he was soft and sweet but like Juliette he has to show a ruthless exterior. He also has to deal with his family not completely trusting him because of his history with Juliette and I really loved how he was never domineering or controlling when working with Juliette. I loved seeing how much he cared and loved his sister and how he would do anything to protect her.
A love like theirs was never going to survive in a city divided by hatred.
I loved every single interaction between Juliette and Roma. The tension and the angst, the pining and their electric chemistry that grew as the story went on and they slowly started to open up to each other again. I loved their dynamic and how they could only show their vulnerability to each other and also feared showing vulnerability because it was dangerous for them. I cannot wait to see them in the sequel especially after the events of that ending! Although I do hope they have a better ending than Romeo and Juliet did.
I loved the side characters too, they were all interesting and complex and had their own story arcs which I was invested in too. Honestly all the characters in this were so well written. I loved all of them and I can’t wait to see what will happen in the sequel especially after that ending.
This book was incredible and discussed so many important issues while also creating a dark and gritty atmosphere. The story will suck you in and the characters will have you completely hooked onto their every word and you will think about this book long after you finish it.